Afternoon folks. Here’s a couple of Canes-related things going through my brain right now...
1) The schedule was released last week, and I have to say it did not disappoint. As far as Miami’s non-conference opponents, no one can have any beef with Miami’s. Alabama is the most difficult opponent possible (I don’t care who they’re losing) and will provide a litmus test between the Canes and the top of the college football world (caveat: everything that follows depends on D’Eriq King’s availability at the start of the season, of course). Hopefully that distance is shorter than I fear. Michigan State was up and down last year, although they did knock off B1G West champ Northwestern last year. They’re certainly capable of winning in game 3. App State has been no stranger to being ranked, nor to scaring the hell out of major programs (our 2016 romp notwithstanding). That will be a challenge to get ready for, in the event Miami takes one on the chin in the previous game against the Tide.
As far as the rest of it, it’s front-loaded on the home slate, which is always nice. The schedule doesn’t send the Canes on back to back road games either. Home/road/home/road is the story for the last half of the year. The season ends with a game at Duke, so perhaps Miami can finally finish the regular season on a high note (they’d better). Also, a week off before Miami’s second-toughest game of the year (at UNC) can’t be a bad thing (or shouldn’t be....the bye week struggles had better become a thing of the past).
All in all, top to bottom... I like it. The non-conference opponents outside of Bama are all winnable, and App State and Michigan State merit respect. There aren’t brutal back to backs, and there aren’t back to back road trips. Solid, but certainty navigable.
2) Duke is in town to face Canes Hoops tonight. I remember some tremendous contests from the 2013 and 2017 seasons, when UM slammed the Blue Devils at home. The 2013 game was incredibly exciting, with the Canes crushing #1 Duke 90-63 on the strength of a 25-1 second half run. That was a special team, and this was a special performance.
Miami also clipped Duke on senior day in 2017, 55-50. Bruce Brown led the way with 25 points, as UM avoided a second half deficit on the way to a slim victory. The win they likely needed to work their way into the tournament that season.
Those wins were incredible, something worth celebrating. But the sad reality is this UM team is going through a rash of injuries that I can’t ever remember seeing. 7 players available against Wake Forest before Isaiah Wong hurt his ankle on Saturday. No one can win in those circumstances, and that certainly won’t happen against a quickly improving and surely talented team like Duke. Yeah, Louisville happened, but I don’t see it tonight.
Just keep fighting, fellas. The sports Gods have dealt you a 2-9 offsuit this season.